Dancing Underwater While Trying Not to Drown

Subversive Sirens

Subversive Sirens

The Subversive Sirens are a Minnesota-based synchronized swim team that blends art, activism, and a deep love of Prince. I covered the Sirens for both KFAI community radio and MinnPost as the team prepared for its first-ever competition at the 2018 Gay Games in Paris, France. You can listen to my KFAI audio portrait below and read my MinnPost feature here. The Sirens would go on to win a gold medal at the 2018 competition. (Underwater photos: Rhea Pappas; All other photos: Erin Sharkey)

When Prince Called at 3 A.M.

Ever since Prince died in 2016, people who knew him have come forward with personal stories about what the famously private star was actually like as a person. One of those people is Minneapolis musician Gary Hines. Hines remembers how Prince didn’t exactly keep 9 to 5 hours. I reported this story for KFAI in Minneapolis. (Photo Credit: Karl Demer, Atomic K Studios)

NPR: Covering Prince’s Death

Prince Paisley Park Memorial

Prince Paisley Park MemorialOn the day that Prince’s death was announced in April, I got a call from Ken Barcus, who is NPR’s Midwest Bureau Chief. He wanted to know if I could go to Prince’s Paisley Park estate and interview mourners. I got in my car and headed south to Chanhassen, Minnesota, which is about 30 minutes outside of Minneapolis. When I arrived in the late afternoon, the scene was somber and expectant. Helicopters were flying overhead. Fans trickled in with cards and flowers. The international news media was there, waiting for something to happen. Over the next few days, the fence around Paisley Park would explode into a memorial thick with poems, flowers, artwork, and many purple balloons. But on that first day, the fence was sparsely decorated. Fans at the scene seemed shell shocked. One of the people I interviewed that day was Suzanne O’Keefe (pictured below), who told me she had broken down crying when she learned about Prince’s death while sitting in a bank parking lot.


I filed several newscast spots for NPR in those first days following Prince’s death. Here’s a sampler of that coverage.

Prince Paisley Park Memorial